RGB verses CMYK Colours

For the colour printing of your digital files, you need to supply the graphics and image in the optimum colour mode. Many software programmes will allow you to work with RGB colour or CMYK colour. RGB colours or Red-Green-Blue colours are known as the primary colours of the light. This colour combination can be seen on your t.v. or computer monitors. Digital cameras and scanners also make images using Red-Green-Blue colour combinations. Red-Green-Blue colour mode should be in use when taking photos that are to be seen on a monitor, or by emails or CD.

All colours of the light spectrum are formed from the primary colours, but monitors can display only limited colour range from the visible spectrum. Light is emitted by the monitor, and the ink recognizes only specific wavelength of colours. The three primary colours are combined to produce white colour. If all three primary colours are missing, the light will show as black. By combining a variety of intensities of RGB colours, each mixture results in differing colours. The monitor of a tv or a computer is made up of small units called pixels. Every pixel contains three units of light, and each unit represents red, green and blue.

You can’t actually see the individual pixels with the naked eye as they are so small. Each pixel is created by the application of proper values of RGB, as without the proper values of the colour units, you will not see anything on the monitor. The values of RGB colours are calculated mainly by three methods. The first method is to set them with the help of different numeric values. The numeric values used for this purpose are the values from 0 to 255, and this is the best method of the three.

The second method is by using hexadecimal notations. This method is mainly used for HTML and other languages of the computer. These notations follow a logical pattern. The hexadecimal notation uses six characters, and these characters are divided into three. The first pair represents the red, the second pair green and the third pair as blue. Each pair is represented by a hexadecimal number (0-9) and the letters (A-F). The third method is the percentage in which a certain percentage represents each colour. The program translates these percentages into suitable values ranges from 0-255.

CMYK colours or Cyan-Magenta-Yellow colours are subtractive colours, whereas RGB colours are additive colours. Additive colours are referring to light, whereas subtractive colours refer to inks, paint or pigment. CMYK mode is used for printing as all kind of printers use subtractive colours to result in differing colours. When three additive colours are combined, the combination will produce white colour. But when three subtractive colours are combined, the combination produces black. This difference develops a wide diversity between the print and the monitor display. Additive colour projects the light from the monitor, and if more light is projected from an independent pixel, it will be closer to the pure light. In the case of printer inks, they will absorb light and reflects only the wavelengths of light that is associated with the colour of the ink.

The inks of the printer are subtracting the non-essential wavelengths from the light that falls on the ink. The remaining light will return to our eyes, providing the impression of other colours. If you are combining more colours, then more light will be absorbed by the ink and a lesser amount of light will be reflected to your eyes, and that results in darker colour. Black ink produced by the CMYK colours isn’t the strong black. You have to add some black ink to get the best results for receiving true black. To produce a stronger tone of a colour, you have to add black in CMYK mode.

What about the lighter shade of colours? Because white ink cannot be created using CMYK colours, you need to work under the idea that you are printing the colours on a white paper. Since small dots of ink are used to print images the inks are used in a lower percentage to produce lighter shades so that more white is seen among the dots. The values of CMYK colours are calculated with the help of four different percentages. The values of each percentage should be between 0 and 100 so that the total percentage of the ink values can be up to 400%. But when the total percentage reaches 400%, the ink takes more time to dry. Hence, the total percentage of ink shouldn’t be more than 300% in CMYK mode.

Both of the colour modes have their own limitations. The images resulting using RGB mode cannot be converted smoothly into CMYK mode due to the brightness of RGB colours. Similarly, CMYK colours cannot be converted to RGB mode as the sharp look of RGB colours is missing in CMYK mode online. This is the reason why RGB colours are used in monitors and CMYK colours are used in printers.

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